The Actor Filmmakers: Top 7

Posted on March 3, 2010


You know most of these actors. I think you’ll enjoy a glimpse into why I say these actor filmmakers inspired me to pursue this dream of being on both sides of the camera.  These actors set the bar high in film making; as writers, directors and cinematographers.  Maybe as producers too but…

I hesitate to say “producer” because this list was composed “at a glance” with some little research. Further research would solidify who actually earned the “producer” credit—as in acquiring countless paper cuts, and sleepless nights from planning and endless phone calls; sometimes the credit is given as a part of a decent deal that requires they sign on the dotted line, and that’s it.

That… is not the kind of inspiration I’m referring to.

I’m looking beyond the final product of their work and more closely to their work ethic, how they left their mark, every step of the way. It’s the kind of dedication I hope to develop with every project I get involved with.

**If you’re too anxious to wait for the blog “touch up”, you may look up all of these actors on while I dig up some ridiculous links of info and footage to spice things up a bit:

So without further ado, here are seven of my favorite actor filmmakers:

1.** Charlie Chaplin

He was The Actor Filmmaker! I recently saw his biopic from 1993, starring Robert Downey Jr., makes me plan to venture into Chaplin’s autobiography, My Autobiography. For now I am preparing to write further on his work and inspiration in my life. Oooh maybe a whole page for Chaplin? Who would like that?

2.  Clint Eastwood

Admit it! You, like me, always wanted to have his craggy voice to set things straight at work or with an opposing significant other. His recent films have altered the cliché that was Dirty Harry. The French gave his Gran Torino The Cesar for Best Foreign film of 2009; he beat out Avatar! And look at the influence Avatar is having on the acting community. How do you beat that?

3. Zhang Yimou

Ah! I wish you could’ve been in my Asian Film class when I first heard about this great filmmaker! I resembled a drueling groundling watching To Live. I used to call him the Asian “Steven Spielberg” back then. Now that I’ve seen lots of his work and the fact that he acts as well…he’s on an Olympic sized category of his own.  That’s right! For those of you that saw the 2008 Summer Games…he directed that massive opening Ceremony.

4.  Mel Gibson

In one of my conversations at the UCF Library a patron once said, “funny thing about Mel Gibson is, you either love him or you hate him.” I try to focus on his work, but his life does create some seriously annoying and even disappointing distractions. And yet despite all of the controversy I admire his work. Actually it was his performance in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet that fired me up about acting in high school.

5. Tom Hanks

Do you remember how old you were when you saw Big? I’m sure you saw Turner and Hooch? Well maybe you can help me remember what film has Tom doing stand up? Perhaps what I admire most is the progression of depth and range in his work.  Just think about it… from The Money Pit to Cast Away? How about directing one episode from Tales from the Crypt back in 1992 to his work on the Polar Express and then recently producing Where the Wild Things Are? I dare say…impressive.

6. Denzel Washington

I was a teenager when I saw him in Much Ado About Nothing. He is the first African American I saw do Shakespeare. Then it was Lawrence Fishburne in Othello. Being a minority myself this empowered me you know…nothing’s impossible.  I’ve been falling behind with Denzel…still have to watch him in The Book of Eli, which he produced.

7. George Clooney

I first met George…okay, okay, so I didn’t actually meet him. My mom kinda introduced him to me when she asked if I knew who that actor on her favorite show, ER (yes I know this goes way back) He was saving a little boy from what seemed to be a retention pond.  Now, he’s in the Oscar race…again. This time he’s Up in the Air.  Clooney is another one I have fallen behind with. “Denzel, George…forgive me guys for missing your movies but I am trying to catch up to you on a set somewhere…someday…maybe distant from now, but I’m trying nonetheless.”

**This list will go on…Top 15? Bet you can’t guess what I have to say about the following actors:

8. Orson Welles

9.  Sydney Pollack

10. Bruce Lee

11. Cantinflas (good luck with this one!)

12. Robert Benigni

13. Jodie Foster

14. Helen Hunt

15. Robert Redford

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Posted in: Acting